Roger Scruton: How to Be a Non-Liberal, Anti-Socialist Conservative

Great Britain

As I have researched the decline and fall of Haiti, I have grown more interested in the origin and spread of the ideas that led to this disaster, and the pathology of the liberal mindset that has sustained it to this day.

This essay by Roger Scruton will serve as a useful point of departure for our next investigation into the roots of modern liberalism – the French Revolution, the American Revolution, the Enlightenment, Endarkment, etc.

“Post-war intellectuals have inherited two major systems of political thought with which to satisfy their lust for doctrine: liberalism and socialism. It is testimony to the persistence of the dichotomizing frame of mind that, even in Eastern Europe, the “world conflict” that endured for seventy years was frequently seen in terms of the opposition between these systems. And because they are systems, it is often supposed that they are organically unified—that you cannot embrace any part of one of them without embracing the whole of it. But let it be said at the outset, that, from the standpoint of our present predicament, nothing is more obvious about these systems than the fact that they are, in their presuppositions, substantially the same.

Each of them proposes a description of our condition, and an ideal solution to it, in terms which are secular, abstract, universal, and egalitarian. Each sees the world in “desacralized” terms, in terms which, in truth, correspond to no lasting common human experience, but only to the cold skeletal paradigms that haunt the brains of intellectuals. Each is abstract, even when it pretends to a view of human history. Its history, like its philosophy, is detached from the concrete circumstance of human agency, and, indeed, in the case of Marxism, goes so far as to deny the efficacy of human agency, preferring to see the world asa confluence of impersonal forces. The ideas whereby men live and find their local identity—ideas of allegiance, of country or nation, of religion and obligation—all these are, for the socialist, mere ideology, and for the liberal, matters of “private” choice, to be respected by the state only because they cannot truly matter to the state. …

Each system is also universal. An international socialism is the stated ideal of most socialists; an international liberalism is the unstated tendency of the liberal. To neither system is it thinkable that men live, not by universal aspirations but by local attachments; not by a “solidarity” that stretches across the globe from end to end, but by obligations that are understood in terms which separate men from most of their fellows—in terms such as national history, religion, language, and the customs that provide the basis of legitimacy. Finally—and the importance of this should never be underestimated—both socialism and liberalism are, in the last analysis, egalitarian. They both suppose all men to be equal in every respect relevant to their political advantage. For the socialist, men are equal in their needs, and should therefore be equal in all that is granted to them for the satisfaction of their needs. For the liberal, they are equal in their rights, and should therefore be equal in all that affects their social and political standing. …”

About Hunter Wallace 10082 Articles
Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Occidental Dissent

31 Comments

  1. If there’s any singular concept that represents the “One Ring” which connects all the evils of the last 250 years together, it’s equality.

  2. I want to thank you for all of your interesting work on the topic of Haiti, the Caribbean, etc. Of course your Black History Month archive is fantastic as well. I look forward to more once you get through Lundahl’s work. I would recommend to you the book “American Millstone” with regard to Black freedom issues here. Thanks again.

  3. “Each system is also universal. An international socialism is the stated ideal of most socialists…” The termNational Socialism” was invented in the Nineteenth Century by a Jewish intellectual named Moses Hess. Hitler’s Party appropriated — hijacked? — the term, and made it synonymous with exterminationist anti-Semitism.

  4. Kudos on the Scruton reference.

    He is probably the most important philosopher the right has produced.

  5. Btw Scruton managed to bag a very young woman for a wife. He comes off as campy stereotype but he’s a wiley fox.

  6. Never heard of him. What seemed freshest was the attention to the “definition of legitimacy.” That’s so pivotal in the whole program of what has been done, the shift of legitimacy from “a people” to victimology and other signifiers.

    Otherwise, it also seemed sort of proof that there’s no way out of marxism except through it, in the sense that in school (had to read all of marx) the emphasis was on his wishing to ensure people were no longer prey to thinking in terms of endless “false dichotomies” (left-right; black-white; communism v capitalism; etc, etc.) and this was to undermine the reality that the masses were unable to act in their own interests (due to propaganda, and the way in which culture and cultural artifacts reinforced their “reality”) as later others worked on like Gramsci. MY parents certainly were not “thinking in terms of elementary dichotomies,” and there was a feeling also out there that a “liberal education” would actually cut through the possibility of turning out to be like people who think in black-white; left-right; up-down; commie v capital; republic-democrat” and other (as they were called in school) “reductive terms.”

    Also, it is VERY IMPORTANT in the u.s. to ensure A-historical views (this is largely the purview of all psychiatry and t.v. shows whose fictions are a delivery system for the psychiatric-medical-industrial complexes rationalizations.) Nothing is the fault of the society, only mommies and daddies and abuse and so forth.

    How would the u.s. look if the Latin “immigration” made by the POLICIES of catholic-actors in government, by the tens of millions, reprinting of documents in a foreign Latin language, giving VOTES to the latin foreign nationals, etc,—- how would that and more LOOK to the public if they knew about the history of Genocide against the Northwest European Protestants, that it really was ‘THEIR” country???

    Well… not good, (lol). Due to this A-historical nature of the dumbed down, they can be Genocidal AND VERY VERY MORAL, all at the same time!!!

    Anyway, the terms here sort of seemed to show there is no way out of Marxism at this point, except THROUGH it, to subsume and roll over the insights that actually have been gained. Psychiatry, in particular, must become a recognizable paradigm for understanding or critiquing, not a normalized system of thought (which it is for “the masses” now. One in four women are on psych drugs, and they believe they are mentally ill, and their children, etc.; they believe themselves to be the victims of diseases for which there are no tests and so on).

    This writer seems torn, imo, between being a nationalist (believing in A PEOPLE) AND BEING a theocrat (“piety precedes justice”). Part of ‘liberalism” probably was to get rid of the horrific downside of (the wrong kind of) theocracy. People must remember the brutality of the lockdown on thought that can occur in the wrong kind of theocracy…

    There WERE MANY THINGS that made the Englightenment (not the endarkenment) SEEM NECESSARY AT THAT TIME…

    This is the sentence the writer above is insisting people come to have. That is the historical (not a-historical) sentence. To be HISTORICAL (not A-historical, which he argues against) IS TO PUT THINGS INTO THE CONTEXT and understand WHY THEY EMERGED.

    To call the Enlightenment the “endarkenment” AND SIMPLY TRY TO DISCREDIT IT (for whatever agenda) is simply taking the A-HISTORICAL road. The historical perspective is to see why/how IT SEEMED NECESSARY FOR THE PEOPLE FOR IT TO EMERGE…

    And there were real reasons behind it. (not just mean jews, etc, etc, the common wn “transcendental signifier” for all things, lol)

  7. What I was trying to say is that he, like any educated person today, falls prey to talking in the very terms he is trying to argue against. It’s very difficult for most people to return to their “own” reality… their “own” people (in fact it may be illegal). Absurdly, on the psychiatric-individual level, to wrench a person from their natural identity and biological roots, would be done by a “psycho-path” or a “socio-path.” And yet, not so when it is the law of the land…

    The psychiatric narrative (daily propaganda locating societal trouble in the individual family)— creates the situation in which the larger society must become a a mirror of the dysfunctional family, (the creation of victim groups as an extension of the dysfunctional individual family). Counselors sent on-site to the wounded groups, as in school shooting, etc…

    But it’s so normalized the people cannot see it is a world of their own making, nor how it is rooted in language.

  8. Quote from ‘Our Church’ by Roger Scruton: ‘In the world in which we live, Christians are a marginalised and persecuted sect. It is an offence against political correctness to speak out for the Christian faith, just as it is an offence to declare one’s love of England and its inherited ways. But Christians are better fitted to endure this than most religious believers. Their model is a man who was despised and rejected, and although they are commanded to love their neighbor, they also know the person who commanded this was crucified long ago’.

  9. Scruton speaking recently: ‘I don’t deny that there are parties that should be outlawed – as the Nazi Party was outlawed, many millions of deaths too late (…) Parties, in my view, are like people: they must conform to the categorical imperative. They must not practise or justify murder, and must not incite hatred towards any minority or towards any recognizable sub-community within the state. And if they do those things, the state has the right and the duty to disband them (…) I too was accused of racism and xenophobia by the left-liberal media in Britain, and was forced to run the gauntlet of disgrace by my university colleagues. My offence was to have argued (…) that the future of Britain depends not on encouraging immigrants to live apart in cultural ghettoes, but on integrating them into a common culture of nationhood (…) Throughout the thirties the European political elite lived in denial over German re-armament. By the time the truth could no longer be hidden, it was impossible to deter Hitler’s seizure of Czechoslovakia. Reflecting on such examples it is surely reasonable to conclude that we have a duty now to brave the charge of racism and xenophobia, and to discuss every aspect of immigration. We owe this not just to the indigenous people of Europe, but to the immigrants themselves, who have just as great an interest in peaceful coexistence as the rest of us (…) Now I do not doubt that there is such a thing as racism, that it has been immensely destructive and that our governments are right to look for methods to prevent its expression. Racially motivated crime carries an added penalty in English law, and incitement to racial violence is regarded as a serious offence (…) I do not doubt that there is such a thing as xenophobia (…) Now it is easy for an educated member of the liberal élite to discard his xenophobia: for the most part his contacts with foreigners help him to amplify his power, extend his knowledge and polish his social expertise. But it is not so easy for an uneducated worker to share this attitude, when the incoming foreigner takes away his job, brings strange customs and an army of dependents into the neighbourhood, and finally surrounds him with the excluding sights and sounds of a ghetto (…) I am neither racist nor xenophobic; I am in the habit of assuming that the same is true of others, until they have shown evidence to the contrary’.

    He was brought up by atheist and socialist (but nominally Methodist and Baptist) middle class parents who wanted him to be ‘a proper proletarian’. But he rebelled by sneaking off to attend catechism at the local Anglican church where he was confirmed at fourteen years of age. Today he still serves as organist for a typically small rural Anglican congregation of about fifteen people. Just one more relevant quotation (to understand the nature of his ‘non-liberal anti-socialist conservatism’): ‘By living in a spirit of forgiveness we not only uphold the core value of citisenship but also find the path to social membership that we need. Happiness does not come from the pursuit of pleasure, nor is it guaranteed by freedom, it comes from sacrifice. That is the message of the Christian religion and it is the message that is conveyed by all the memorable works of our culture. It is the message that has been lost in the noise of repudiation, but which it seems to me can be heard once again if we devote our energies to retrieving it. And in the Christian tradition the primary act of sacrifice is forgiveness. The one who forgives sacrifices vengeance and renounces thereby a part of himself for the sake of another’.

  10. Scruton is a Dweller in the Heidegger sense.

    He’s often called a fascist by his opponents.

  11. Dixie,

    You should study Scruton’s arguments.

    He makes a few bows to the Multicult but he is clearly one of the good guys.

  12. Dixie G- What kind of ‘theocracy’ are you referring to?

    we’ve not had one in the last millenium, as far as I can see.
    And, if that is the case, how can ANY of us speak authoritatively about the ‘wrong’ kind of theocracy, when we have no first hand knowledge, other than the propaganda abolitionist Yankees and Romeaphobic protestants have churned out, ever since Luther?

    Is atomistic individualism (the legacy of jettisoning one of those ‘theocratic models’ you allude to) really that good, when it gave us multiculturalism, the religion of ‘diversity’ and fag marriage, along with abortion, jungle bunny music, drugs, and immorality on a scale not seen since Pagan Rome?

    I’d love to know….

  13. John, I agree. The apparently anti-racist quotes I selected from his speech in Belgium are just polite ‘bows’.

  14. @John: Still, it is hard to discern that he’s just being polite when he says racism is real, and ‘has been immensely destructive’ and that ‘our governments are right to look for methods to prevent its expression’ — and that he is ‘neither racist nor xenophobic’.

    Fr John, I believe DixieGirl was referring to the Italian/Latin brand of theocracy — and I could be considered a Romeaphobic protestant much more than she, though I’m not really Protestant and don’t FEAR the Papacy at all. I am also theocratic. Roger Scruton seems to oppose any rigid, thoroughgoing legal application of any religion, even his traditional Anglican.

  15. See Scruton on Beauty and Consolation…

    And tell me that the Squire isn’t a white supremacist.

  16. Don’t you think racism is real? Most of it is historically directed at whites anyway. The accusation of racism itself is only directed at whites.

    Hunter, might I suggest banning Nagant? He’s a tiresome prig.

  17. John, I’m surprised that you aren’t willing to allow some disagreement or difference of opinion on this forum. I said I AGREE with your assessment, but that it is hard to dismiss as taqiyya statements like these: ‘the Nazi Party was outlawed, many millions of deaths too late (…) Parties, in my view, are like people: they must conform to the categorical imperative. They must not practise or justify murder, and must not incite hatred towards any minority or towards any recognizable sub-community within the state. And if they do those things, the state has the right and the duty to disband them (…) and the future of Britain depends not on encouraging immigrants to live apart in cultural ghettoes, but on integrating them into a common culture of nationhood’!

  18. Scruton’s opinion on Nazi Germany is no measure of the man, nor of his philosophical ideas. To suggest that his distaste for Nazism is a matter of great importance to us, as if it eclipses everything he says, or ‘sums him up’, is to situate your mentality on the level of ideology. Why would you want to descend from the philosophical contemplation of absolutes, to questions of mere ideological or historical interest? That’s a degradation of one’s God-given human intelligence.

    If Scruton were a mere historian, it would be different, but he’s aiming for principles that are greater than historical phenomena. He’s reaching for spiritual absolutes, which are reflected in political regimes only when they are aligned to absolute values. The timeless is the aim and focus of Scrutons work, next to which his opinion on Hitler is incidental. If he says bad things about Nazi Germany, he’s simply using Nazi Germany to illustrate the consequences of the modern world’s departure from absolute principles. His choice of illustration is based on his knowledge of 20th century history. Sure, he goes with the mainstream perspective on this period of history, but we can only squander so much of our time into verifying everything recorded in history books. Some people have more important things to deal with.

    You (Mosin) believe in a lot of things that you have not independently verified. Well, how about you deal with histrocal lies, and let Scruton correct metaphysical lies? Has he accepted an historical lie as a fact? But then you accept metaphysical lies as truths (otherwise you’d agree with Scruton 😉 ). No one likes to be lied to, but it’s worse to be deceived by metaphysical lies than historical lies.

    Nazi Germany is a useless and irrelevant historical fixation. By overblowing the significance of Nazism to contemporary problems, we only play into the hands of the Jews, who are doing everything in their power to keep the memory Nazi Germany and WWII alive. You can have your opinion on Hitler’s regime, but don’t pretend that it’s such an important thing that we must measure everybody according to whether they like or dislike Nazi Germany. It’s laughable that some people use the Nazi regime as a meauring rod of everything. Nazi Germany represents some ideal we should strive for? No, the white race has done far better than that. There’s no reason for us to cling to the memory of Nazi Germany when we have had greater regimes based on greater principles.

  19. Arrow, the full quotation I selected had to with MORE than just his interpretation of Nazi history. I understand and I agree that he could be wrong about just that — although he might NOT REALLY be wrong at all, but just practicing taqiyya or being overly polite to his audience.

    What about some of his OTHER apparently liberal-conformative statements in that quotation, including apparent agreement with hate crime enforcement (‘Parties, in my view, are like people: they must conform to the categorical imperative. They must not…incite hatred towards any minority or towards any recognizable sub-community within the state. And if they do those things, the state has the right and the duty to disband them’) and agreement with the policy of blending or integrating other ethnic groups and races into the native British ethny (‘the future of Britain depends not on encouraging immigrants to live apart in cultural ghettoes, but on integrating them into a common culture of nationhood’)? Are THOSE some of the ‘metaphysical truths’ that you think HE has understood and I have NOT? But I think the ‘metaphysical lies’ you mean are ‘theological’, aren’t they?

    Note that I said I think it is really all taqiyya, or else over-politeness, or ‘softness’ as Scruton himself calls it, when says about himself: ‘I am soft, too soft’. But Arrow, let’s not split hairs or make a mountain of this molehill. Robert Scruton is a good true conservative, and I thank Hunter for bringing him to our attention.

  20. Mosin:

    In the ideal United Kingdom, there would still be ethnic minorities such as the Welsh, as well as ‘minority’ religious groups, ‘minority’ sectional interests, foreign visitors, etc. In an ideal state, it would be conducive to order to forbid the incitement of strife against such ‘minorities’. This was understood long before liberals and anti-racists began to abuse this argument in attempt to silence all opposition to immigration.

    The problem is that liberals have co-opted and distorted a few good ideas that have nothing intrinsically to with liberalism. When an Evola or a Schuon advocates the protection of the environment, it has a very different connotation than when a dreadlocked hippie advocates the same thing. In the same way, when it is understood that Scruton’s statements on ‘minorities’, ‘xenophobia’, etc. are from the perspective of traditionalist conservatism, those statements take on a very different meaning than they would if a liberal or a mainstream conservative were to make the same statements. The traditionalist recognises the existence of race and caste as institutions ordained by God, but he does not idolize race or turn it into a spiritual Absolute, for to do so would be to compromise higher principles, While traditionalists are in favour of racial homogeneity because it conduces to harmony and allows the races to actualize their God-given natures without foreign interference, they are also opposed to the incitement of strife within the state because they prefer order to chaos.

    Scruto nis a good philosopher but he is only a philosopher. Philosophy takes us higher than ideology, but it can only take us so far because it reasons from insufficient knowledge. The perspective that Scruton is reaching for, but does’t quite attain, is reached by Rene Guenon and Schuon. Pro-white conservatives would do well to take a careful study of their works, if for no other reason than to possess the intellectual and spiritual ammunitation to defend the white race and uphold traditional values and principles.

  21. Very good statement, arrow. I believe I understand and agree with all of it.

    You haven’t explained ‘metaphysical lies’, but that might take us far off topic.

  22. Hereward, what he’s talking about, and evidently believes in, is the ‘perennial philosophy’, and by ‘metaphysical lies’ he may mean the Gospel and Christian tradition.

  23. No, by ‘metaphysical lies’ was meant the metaphysical assumptions underlying the modern worldview as embodied, for example, in scientism, and in contradistinction to the traditional metaphysics of christianity. Scruton corrects metaphysical lies, a fact which should outweigh in his favour whatever historical lies he may have imbibed, which are trivial in comparison with the metaphysical lies that many have accepted. he offers metaphysical truths – let the revisionists offer historical facts.
    I am a believer in the gospel and follower of the christian tradition.

  24. Thanks for the full and polite explanation, arrow. I hope I haven’t REALLY ‘imbibed any metaphysical assumptions underlying the modern world view as embodied, for example, in scientism, and in contradistinction to the traditional metaphysics of christianity’. If you find evidence of such I will appreciate receiving your correction — unless you mean that the appearance of being Protestant (though I’m not) by being anti-Papist makes me seem ‘modern worldly’ to you — and of course I cannot agree with Rene Guenon and his followers about what constitutes right tradition. My understanding of Christianity is much closer to Scruton’s than to ‘Guenonism’. By the way, the previous comment addressed to Saxon, that mentioned ‘the perennial philosophy’, was mine not Saxon’s.

  25. Let it be noted: Guenonian traditionalism wasn’t advocated, but rather a study of the works of Guenon and Schuon for the intellectual and spiritual ammuniton they provide in the defence of essential principles as encapsulated in the traditional metaphysical worldview. As they are essentializers of traditional principles, not universalisers of religion, true conservatives share a common ground with them. Scruton is good, but he doesn’t go far enough. And this is inevitable, because philosophy gathers its data, as it were, using only one side of human intelligence.

    Guenon and Schuon are unnecessary to traditional exoteric Christians; they are already on the right, and have no need to stray into esoteric territories. Esoteric traditionalists, for their part, expect inevitable opposition from exoteric traditionalists, but believe that beneath this opposition there is an underlying and fundamental agreement. Esoterists accept what exoteric believers, but see a deeper layer of meaning in those beliefs than the exoterist may be comfortable with, it if he could see things as they see things, he would not see any cause for disagreement. Exoterists are only defending the faith in the form and the level of meaning it has been given them, and the esoterists say: God bless you; keep defending the Bible, and fight the enemy.

    Guenon and Schuon are by no means above criticism, although the partidular criticisms in the link provided by Hereward Saxon above are based on profound misunderstandings, and I see that the piece is written by a well known ‘anti-fascist’ distorter and liar, whose accusations have been thoroughly refuted by the Traditionalists. But as philosohers and metaphysicians, and essentializers of traditional values and principles, Guenon and Schuon are very illuminating, and worthy of study to conservatives of a philosophical or metaphysical disposition. The sort of people who read Scruton. As well as people who appreciate the importance of race beyond its materialistic aspect. (Schuon’s ‘Race and Caste’ is a good study of this question.)

    In sum, exoteric Christians needn’t bother with Guenon and Schuon, who are besides not above criticism. They are simply illuminating and worthy of study to traditionalist Christians of a philosophical turn of mind, and are useful for the defence of traditional principle including the spiritual value of race and caste. As essentializers there is no conflict between them and traditional Christianity. I hope that clarifies.

  26. ‘In sum, exoteric Christians needn’t bother with Guenon and Schuon, who are besides not above criticism. They are simply illuminating and worthy of study to traditionalist Christians of a philosophical turn of mind, and are useful for the defence of traditional principle including the spiritual value of race and caste. As essentializers there is no conflict between them and traditional Christianity. I hope that clarifies’:

    It does clarify. Thank you for the respectful and informative exchange. Hereward’s selection doesn’t show the full range of Guenon and Schuon followings and applications. Nor does my Scruton quote selection represent his entire position properly.

Comments are closed.